Space Heater Fire Safety

Space Heater Fires Between 2008 and 2017

One hundred thirty-six (136) space heater fires were reported to the Office of the State Fire Marshal between 2008 and 2017. While these fires are not frequent, they are deadly. One of every 34 space heater fires causes a fatality.

Between 2008 and 2017, space heater fires caused 4 civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries,
27 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $10.3 million. The average dollar loss for a space heater fire is $71,701. Twenty-one percent (21%) of these fires were caused when combustible materials such as bedding, mattresses and pillows, clothing or furniture were too close to the heater, and another 9% were caused when rugs, carpets or mats were under or too close to the heater.

Safety Tips

If you must use a space heater for heat, use it as safely as possible.

  • When buying a heater, look for one that has been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).
  • Keep the heater 3-feet away from drapes, furniture or other flammable materials.
  • Place the heater on a level surface away from areas where someone might bump into it and knock it over.
  • Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty cord marked with a power rating at least as high as that on the label of the heater itself.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
  • Supervise children and pets when a space heater is in use.
  • Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
  • The sale and use of unvented kerosene heaters is illegal in Massachusetts.